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Lot size

People frequently come to me saying that they want an “x” acre lot.  I like to rephrase it by asking what they are trying to achieve.  I do that because I feel it is important to know how your new home will “feel”.  Part of that will depend on the how large or small your lot feels.  I use the word feel because the physical size of the lot can be much different from large or small the lot feels.  I have seen 10 acre lots that feel like they are less than an acre; I’ve seen 2 acre lots that seem much larger.

What makes the difference?  Location and orientation of the homes on adjacent lots, terrain, amount of trees nearby and lot layout has much to do with it.  It is also important to know what your neighbor can do on their land.  For example, my lots generally have a restriction of cutting no more than 25% of the trees over 6″ in diameter in a 5 year period of time.  If you want an open lot, buy an open lot.  But if you bought a nice, wooded lot and your neighbor can then strip their lot, you have lost what you were trying to have.  One customer told me about how the lot beside their home (which they had owned for 15 years) was suddenly stripped.  Not only did it kill the affect of their land, they had water and erosion problems to boot.

Their is nothing wrong with an open lot.  Just make sure you can keep the setting you are trying to create.  I have open lots, lots that are private yet still feel “open” as well as wooded lots.

My point is, be sure to understand the feel you are trying to get.  If being close to town is important, yet privacy is also important, you can meet both of those needs.

Happy land hunting.  If you have any questions, even if doesn’t involve my land, feel free to give me a call.  I share thoughts with you.  Tom

View lots

When you buy a view lot, be sure you get what your paying for.  Your view is very special to you and you paid a premium for it.  Unfortunately, some people buy a view only to lose it in a very few years because trees grow to obstruct it or buildings are placed right in the way of your view.

The way to protect your view is to be sure you either own enough land to protect the view OR you have a view easement.   Protecting a view from tree growth depends on they type of trees.  A general rule of thumb I use is for a horizontal view, you must control the land that is less than 75 feet below you.  If you are looking up at distance mountains, that can be less; if you are looking down at a valley or lake, it needs to be more.

The way I handle it with the land I sell is to offer view easements.  The buyer of the land that benefits from a view easement and the buyer who is subject to a view easement are told about the easement prior to purchasing their land.  Frequently the person who is subject to a view easement benefits from an different view easement.

Basically the easement allows the beneficiary of the easement the right to go on to the other persons land and cut trees.  They must give advance notice and they cannot leave a mess.  Frequently there is also included in this a restriction as to what can be build within the easement.

I make it a point of specifying what easements there are for a view lot.  If there isn’t a way to maintain a view, even though you can see one now, I don’t sell it as a view lot.  Check out Settlers Knoll and Frost Homestead as examples of lots with view easement.

If you wish to talk to me about this subject, give me a call at 207 653-9955.

I hope this has been helpful to you.  Tom Chadbourne

Deed restrictions and covenants

Should you be concerned about deed restrictions and covenants?  That depends on what you are looking for.  Most rural towns have limited restrictions; thus you can see a mobile home setting beside an elaborate home.  To many people that is a not a problem.  If you are one of those, then you should read any restrictions very carefully to make sure they don’t limit you from doing that which you wish.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a particular setting for your home and want to maintain that environment, it may be important to see what protections are offered.  It can be a fine balance between restrictions and what you want to do with your lands carefully check out what is offered.

Generally Waterford Properties offers restrictions that help protect the value of your property without being too onerous.  Some of our areas vary it what they offer but generally they include:

  • no mobile homes
  • no unregistered vehicles
  • limits of cutting up to 25% of the trees within a 5 year period (It is a shame to buy a nice wooded lot only to have your abutting neighbor strip their land)
  • you never have to build, but once you start the exterior must be completed and the grounds reshaped within one year (no tar paper shacks.)
  • lots can not be further divided
  • a home site can only have one single family home
  • no business can be operated that employs more than two people in addition to the home owners.
  • side line as well as front and rear setbacks
  • storage of recreation vehicles  must be stored out of sight of the road.

Some places require architectural committees and the like.  We didn’t didn’t feel that was necessary.

Carefully consider what your needs are before you buy.

Good luck and enjoy your new adventure.  Tom

Land for sale for Retirement

Two categories of buyers that I often see are those who are looking for a place to build a house to retire to and those who are looking to build a 4-Season home that they will eventually retire to.

I find there are a few common themes that go into those decisions.  Primarily they are:

  • the distance to the activities they enjoy (hiking, skiing, boating, …),
  • distance to amenities (stores, hospital, churches, …),
  • feel of the setting (rural, remote, private but not isolated, …)
  • type of community the land is in (more laid back vs. more cultural activities).

We have two different locations, though only 8 miles apart, help people narrow down their thoughts.  Both of these locations offer view lots as well as house lots nestled in the woods.  Both offer peaceful settings.

Settlers Knoll has 4 and 5 acre lots and is in a quiet Western Maine town. Hospitals, doctors offices and larger stores are 10 miles or so away yet you are closer to the White Mountain National Forest and outdoor activities.

Frost Homestead is just a couple of miles from a hospital, stores, coffee shop, golf, …  It has 3 common tennis courts, a basketball court and 24 acres of common land.

If you would like me to show you the difference between these two areas or share what I have noticed while showing many couples my land, please email or call me.

Tom Chadbourne, owner  Tom@LandMaine.com, 207 653-9955

PS  We do have land that is closer to Lewiston and Auburn, Maine as well as really remote lots.  To see all my options go to this site.

Cross Country skiing hidden gem

Unfortunately, the winter of 2015-2016 has not provided the snow for good cross country skiing.  There is still time and hope, but check first before heading up to Roberts Farm Preserve.

Roberts Farm Preserve is a wonder.  The trails are well groomed.  On weekends and school holidays the warming hut is open and offers free use of cross country skis, boots, poles as well as snowshoes.  They offer a variety of trails and a spectacular view of Norway Lake. In the summer these trails are great for walking.

This is all provided by the Western Foothills Land Trust.

Waterford Maine

Beyond family history*, Waterford draws me because of the setting, the neighbors and the atmosphere.  Waterford is in the rolling foothills of the White Mountains.  The Waterford area allows for a wide variety of year round activities.  The  town has 7 lakes and ponds and the (aptly named) Crooked River.   Waterford is just a few miles from the White Mountain National Forest.   Three ski areas (Sunday River, Shawnee Peak and Mount Abram) are within 25 miles.

Maybe best of all, Waterford is a quintessential New England town in a very quiet setting.   Though Waterford is convenient (32 miles from Conway, NH, 45 miles from Portland and less than 3 hours from Boston), it is off the beaten path with no major highways nearby.

Waterford has a history of being a quiet place to live.  David McWain arrived in Waterford as the first settler in 1775.  Local lore indicates that he got frustrated a few years later and considered moving on when he saw smoke rising from Paris Hill, which is a few miles away.   He feared it was getting “too crowded.”

Our four and five acre lots at Settlers Knoll are located on part of the original McWain Homestead land.  Despite David McWain’s fear of it getting too crowded Waterford is a quiet place to settle.  If Waterford seems to remote or too small for you, consider our country homesites that are just 8 miles away, just outside the Village of Norway, Maine.

Click here for more information on Waterford, Maine

*Waterford Maine holds a very special place in my heart.  My ancestors moved to Waterford in 1826.  My grandfather met his future bride when he saw her walking the ridgepole of the boarding school in town and my father was raised there.  My wife and I chose to restore and move into the old family farm in Waterford shortly after getting married.  Our children grew up there and I spent much of my adult life in Waterford.

What affects land prices

The biggest difference in land value is where it is located.  Land near a city,  a resort, National Park, etc. will command a larger price than land in a common, rural town.  What I am addressing here are the differences in price in the same general area.

The basic ingredients to the relative value of land in the same area have to do with:

  • What is next door (a lake or a run down house, for example)
  • How does the land “feel”  (Have you even walked on a piece of land that just feels “right”?  I have.)
  • Views add value
  • Restrictions add value (if restrictions are important to you)
  • Roadside utilities
  • Easy access
  • Added amenities such as tennis courts add value to a neighborhood.
It really comes down to what is important to you, but more amenities increases the value, but only if they are of value to you.  A piece of land on a back road with no power and no view is worth much less than a lot that that is ready to build on.  But it comes down to what you want to do with the lot.  If you want a weekend getaway, you may not need electricity, or even the ability to drive to it in the winter.
Although views are great for resale value, if you are working on a limited budget, you may not need to pay for the added cost of a view.
In much of Maine, there are very few restrictions on what can be built on land.  If you are worried about what happens on the land next to yours, it may be worth paying extra for an area that has covenants.  Of course if you don’t want someone to tell you that you can’t have pigs in your back yard or you can’t have a mobile home on your lot, then it is important not to have restrictions.

It is amazing to see the difference prices for land in the same area.  In the past I have had land that was priced at priced under $30,000 for 4 or more acres and land that was price over $100,000 for less  than two acres – and they were in the same subdivision!  So why such a difference?  In this example the less expensive lot was on a town road with a limited building envelop (area in which you can build).  The other lot was in the center of the subdivision with exceptional views (Mount Washington, Norway Lake and rolling hills with farms marching off into the distance).  This is an extreme example, but it makes a point.

Generally, if you are not looking to buy a woodlot, the size of the lot has little to do with the value.  Even if you are looking for a woodlot, the value is more about how much wood is on it and what type and quality of the wood is.

There are subtle differences even within categories.  For example at Settlers Knoll I currently have  view lots within a few hundred yards of each other and they range from $65000 to $135,000.  They all have the same restrictions, are on a paved private road  all have the same utilities.  The difference lies in the type of views and in one case, the lot has a well.

If you have more questions about this, feel free to call me at 207 653-9955 or email me at Tom@LandMaine.com

 

Looking for Land for Sale for a Primary Home Site

Primary home sites – things to consider.

  • LOCATION – How far do you want to commute?  Because there is generally less traffic in Maine, this question may be better answered as a time rather than distance question.   Generally the further you get from a city, the lower the prices become and more private the lots become.
  • ACTIVITIES NEARBY – How you like to spend your spare time will determine what works for you.  If you are an avid skier or hiker, being closer to those activities may be more important than the distance to a symphony or shopping.
  • RULES AND RESTRICTIONS – If it is a subdivision, are there association by-laws and deed restrictions?  Do such restrictions provide the protection you wish for this investment?  Do they meet with your value system?  Remember, a large square footage of a house does not mean that it will be attractive.  Would you be required to build, maintain and heat a building larger than you need?  If you want a large home, would you mind a smaller home next door?
  • TOWN AMENITIES – If you have school age children, check out the quality of the schools.
  • FEES AND TAXES – Look at the total cost of Association fees plus taxes.  What do the Association fees cover?  Are the roads town maintained or Association maintained.  We have one area in a town where the taxes are high but the Association fees are low.  In the next town over they are just the opposite with high fees and low taxes.  The total on both places are about the same.  In the first area, the town plows the roads; in the second, the Association does.
  • We have three subdivisions and they are 12, 20 and 30 miles from  Lewiston and Auburn, yet they each have an entirely different feel: Woodbury Bluff, Frost Homestead and Settlers Knoll.  FYI, there is only a 2o minute difference in the travel time from these same three areas to downtown Portland, Maine.

Be sure to look at future posts regarding the subjects of what to consider when it comes to soils, utilities, views, etc.

Vacation homes for future retirement home

Many of our clients decide to buy land for their future retire and use it as a second home until they do retire.  This is a great way to plan for the future especially since expanded health and lifespans allow for an active retirement.

If you are considering this you may want to consider some of the following.  What activities will be most important to you in your retirement?  Are they compatible with the activities you like now?  If you will live there full time, will the distance to shopping, medical care, cultural activities, etc. be adequate for your needs or would you be better off traveling a little further for your activities.  With regard to our property, two examples of this would be a choice between Frost Homestead and Settlers Knoll.  Though they are only 8 miles apart, they are very different locations.  Frost is nearer to a local hospital and shopping.  Settlers feels more remote and has larger lots.  Both offer access to many outdoor activities.  Both are in quiet settings.  At the same time they each have a very distinct feel.

If you look at these two locations, they may help you better understand your various needs for both pre and post retirement

If you find this post helpful, check for other posts regarding buying land in Maine.

General items to consider when buying land.

These thoughts on what to look for when buying a home site are a broad brush look.  See future posts for more detailed thoughts.

  • COST TO DEVELOP THE LOT –
    • UTILITIES – Are the utilities you want (power, cable, etc.) on the road beside your lot?  If not, how much will it cost to bring them to the lot?  Are there any extra fees that must be paid to the utility for the line extension up the road beside the land you are thinking of buying?
    • DRIVEWAY – Unless exceedingly long or have issues with wetlands, ledge, etc, the driveway cost shouldn’t be that much extra, but you should verify this.  Also, I have found that plowing a longer driveway doesn’t cost much more that plowing a shorter one because much of that cost is gigging back and forth in front on the house.
    • TYPE OF SOILS – Has there been a passing soils test near the location that your want to build?  Is there ledge?  (Some ledge is generally not too bad, but if you have to blast to put in the septic system and utilities plus the full foundation, you best be sure to know what the cost will be before buying.)  Will there be problems with water – either drainage or water table?
  • VIEWS – If views are what draw you to the lot, be sure you will still have that view 5, 10 or more years from now.  Depending on whether you are looking horizontally, downward or upward – generally figure you need to have 75 feet or so of vertical elevation to keep a view.  Some sellers cut the trees on land you will not be buying so it looks like a good view only to find later you can’t keep the view.  Protect yourself by making sure you own the land that affects the view or have an easement to maintain the view over that land.
  • PRIVACY – What is your need for privacy?  If it high, ensure that it can be maintained when someone builds next to your land.
  • ONGOING COSTS – Are there Association fees?  If so, how much are they.  How much are the taxes?
  • PROTECTION – In much of Maine, there are very few zoning laws.  If you want to maintain the value of your land, are there reasonable deed restrictions and by-laws to protect you while not causing you to spend more than your want to.  Are those restrictions enforced?  If you don’t want anyone telling you what to do, be sure there are not any covenants or deed restrictions.

Check our other posts and future posts for other helpful hints.

Click here to see the land I own and offer for sale.

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